The Proper Way to Crash a Wedding in China!
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I had only been in Taiwan for a month.
I happened to walk upon a grassy valley and notice a small crowd gathered beneath some red tents. I was curious and decided to watch discretely when one of the men noticed me and waived at me to come over. Everyone was looking as he sat me at a table. They started piling food on my plate and one of them got me a drink. Suddenly, a second man (obviously drunk) said in very broken English “Welcome to you, very lucky”. I thanked him for the invitation and agreed that I was very lucky today. “No…my meaning is that we are lucky. For Chinese wedding…you coming means baby will come soon”. Later, I discovered that this man was the groom and that a stranger showing up at your wedding means a new baby will arrive soon!
This was not my only experience in crashing a Chinese wedding. I happened to crash upon another wedding while in the Guanqxi province and was similarly invited as a guest. I was fed noodles (a symbol of a long life in China) and treated as if I were an old friend. A few years later, I was in Yunnan and I found myself witness to the marriage of a Dai couple. Actually, the couple arrived late and everyone was already drunk on rice wine. Later, the father of the groom thanked me for coming and as was the case in Taiwan, the new couple was quite lucky. He suggested that next time I bring a date to double the couple’s good fortune.
A big part of weddings in China is drinking. Ganbei is a word often used at weddings. It means dry cup and at a wedding, that is what they want. Traditionally, it is the family of the bride that pays for the wedding so they are usually the first ones to get drunk. Due to the fact that you are a symbol of such good fortune for the newlyweds, the family members from both sides will encourage you to do some serious drinking. Moderation is not an option. You can also expect some type of raw food as this will inspire the spirits to bless the new bride with a child. One last note: money in a red envelope is the gift of choice, but be careful to avoid the number 4 in any amount you give. The Chinese word for “four” sounds remarkably similar to their word for death. You wouldn’t want to curse them on their wedding day, would you?